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Neuroimage. 2001 Feb;13(2):283-94.

Three-dimensional electrical impedance tomography of human brain activity.

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Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Middlesex Hospital, London W1N 8AA, United Kingdom.


Regional cerebral blood flow and blood volume changes that occur during human brain activity will change the local impedance of that cortical area, as blood has a lower impedance than that of brain. Theoretically, such impedance changes could be measured from scalp electrodes and reconstructed into images of the internal impedance of the head. Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) is a newly developed technique by which impedance measurements from the surface of an object are reconstructed into impedance images. It is fast, portable, inexpensive, and noninvasive, but has a relatively low spatial resolution. EIT images were recorded with scalp electrodes and an EIT system, specially optimized for recording brain function, in 39 adult human subjects during visual, somatosensory, or motor activity. Reproducible impedance changes of about 0.5% occurred in 51/52 recordings, which lasted from 6 s after the stimulus onset to 41 s after stimulus cessation. When these changes were reconstructed into impedance images, using a novel 3-D reconstruction algorithm, 19 data sets demonstrated significant impedance changes in the appropriate cortical region. This demonstrates, for the first time, that significant impedance changes, which could form the basis for a novel neuroimaging technology, may be recorded in human subjects with scalp electrodes. The final images contained spatial noise and strategies to reduce this in future work are presented.

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